Re-examining the Constitution

Image result for Polybius “United States” constitution
MLA Format:
Jost, Kenneth, Background, Re-examining the Constitution, History of the United States Constitution, Sept 7, 2012, Vol.22(31), p.750(6), Brooklyn College Library, CUNY OneSearch, ISSN: 1056-2036
The target audience for this are for people who into politics and understand the constitution. The author connects the search term by implying that the constitution is outdated and the constitution has let some people down. The article states, “the Constitution’s faults as among the causes of the growing discontent with politics generally and the declining public confidence in all three branches of the federal government.” This shows that the constitution negatively affects the government in multiple ways. According to the reading it states, “Sulla took the dictatorship in 81, purged his opponents by means of proscriptions, and attempted to reform the constitution, strengthening the senate and abolishing most of the powers of the tribunes.” This relates to the article by showing action towards the flaws of the constitution.
– Adam Allan, Team Ares

An Unoriginal Experiment

In the scholarly article “Polybius and the American Constitution”, Gilbert Chinard tells of how America’s Founding Fathers used the writing of the Greeks and Romans in framing the Constitution. This is a story he tells to other experts in classical histories, evident in his use of uncommon Latin phrases. He connects my search terms “Polybius” and “United States Constitution” by commenting directly on the Founders’ (Madison and Adams) use and knowledge of Polybius’s writings. Chinard even goes so far as to include a direct quote from Polybius:  “such being the power of each order to hurt and assist each other, their union is adapted to all contingencies, and it is not possible to invent a more perfect system.” He continues to explain how they agreed and disagreed with Polybius’s ideas about the optimal constitution. Polybius says: “For it is evident that we must regard as the best constitution a combination of all these three varieties.” It is this reverence for the Roman constitution, the balance of the different types of constitution, that is the main focus of Chinard’s article. In short, Madison and other founders used Polybius’s writing and the writing of other ancient historians to make arguments in favor of ratifying the Constitution in 1787.


Chinard, Gilbert. “Polybius and the American Constitution.” Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 1, No. 1 (1940) Pages 38-58.

The Fall of Democracy


“Democratization and development”

What is the appropriate MLA citation of your search return?

Barsh, Russel Lawrence. “Democratization and Development.” Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 14, no. 1, 1992, pp. 120–134.

Who is the primary intended audience of the publication?

The primary intended audience seems to be politicians.

How (if at all) does the author connect the search terms one to another?  Use one to two short quotes to illustrate your point.

This article whole article speaks of specifically the democracy and constitution in the United States, examples being

“New democracies have succeeded in imposing macroeconomic measures on their constituents.(54) Remmer interprets this as proof of the vitality and resilience of democracy as a political system.(55) She ignores another possibility, however: that transitional regimes are still largely authoritarian in practice, and that this very fact illustrates their macroeconomic dilemma.(56)

A microcosm of this problem can be found within the United States, where indigenous peoples have enjoyed a degree of autonomy since 1934. ” The Greek historian, Polybius, who witnessed the erosion of the Republic, concluded that democracy is born as a response to oligarchy but eventually tends to collapse back into oligarchy due to increasing wealth, inequality, and social conflict.”

Now this isn’t the only connection as the author uses Polybius in their argument, in the section labeled “De-Democratization” where they write,

“The Greek historian, Polybius, who witnessed the erosion of the Republic, concluded that democracy is born as a response to oligarchy but eventually tends to collapse back into oligarchy due to increasing wealth, inequality, and social conflict.”


Select a quote from the ancient texts assigned as home work that seems relevant to your selected publication.  Insert the quotation and explain its relevance.

As mentioned above, there is a section in the article that mentions the fall of democracy, mentioned topics similar to what Polybuis had brought up, even using his words in the text.  This is very similar to what we were going over in class when we discussed just this kind of topic, oligarchy (or mob-rule). An exact quote in full representing this would be “But when a new generation arises and the democracy falls into the hands of the grandchidren of its founders, they have become so accustomed to freedom and equality that they no longer value them, and begin to aim at pre-eminence; and it is chiefly those of ample fortune who fall into this error. So when they begin to lust for power and cannot attain it through themselves or their own good qualities, they ruin their estates, tempting and corrupting the people in every possible way.”

  • Yekaterina Ignatyeva , Team Cronos

What is the Best Government?

When we think of the best or perfect government, many will say something along the lines of, “A democracy, what else is there?”, because of the fact that we live in the United States of America. But in reality, there are a lot of different types of government that have been established. For example an aristocracy is a system of government that is based on hereditary status and connections through royal blood , that allow for that small, wealthy group of nobles, the Aristocrats to have all the power. Similarly, an Oligarchy a system where the rule of the few, small group of people is established, but not necessarily through “royal blood.” In addition there is such a thing as a Monarchy, which is a system that places supreme power of the state in the hands of a single person or family, the Monarch. Albeit there are myriad of deviations that have been established in the past, such as a constitutional monarchy, unitary state, a parliament. But that list is an endless one.

“The constitution should remain for long in a state of equilibrium like a well-trimmed boat, kingship being guarded from arrogance by the fear of the commons, who were given a sufficient share in the government, and the commons on the other hand not venturing to treat the kings with contempt from fear of the elders, who being selected from the best citizens would be sure all of them to be always on the side of justice; so that that part of the state which was weakest owing to its subservience to traditional custom, acquired power and weight by the support and influence of the elders.” 

This quote from the extracts of Polybius illustrate how Polybius believed that there should be a form of checks and balances in government, a separation of powers should be put in place. The piece of writing that I chose to analyze is an essay, The Rise and Fall of the Separation of Powers, by Steven G. Calabresi, Mark E. Berghausen & Skylar Albertson that expands on that belief and praises Polybius and other philosophers who thought alike. This essay talks about the origins of the concept of the separation of powers and, as you can tell by the title, the fall of such a concept. It talks of how modern governments implement the separation of powers, a prime example is the United States of America. In addition, the essay talks of how the concept of the separation of powers originated from the ideal of a “mixed regime”. A mixed regime is the form of government that combines elements of democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. It states how many philosophers and scholars, such as Polybius, conceived of such an ideal so that the not-so-desired offspring of a mixed regime (anarchy, oligarchy and tyranny) could not be formed. This way, Polybius’ Anacyclosis cannot take its full effect and therefore, the undesirable forms of government found in that cycle could not develop and be bypassed.

My search, from which I got this search return from, was “Polybius ‘United States’ constitution.” The authors of this essay connect these two terms quite a lot, as I might have hinted at above. They talk of Polybius’ mixed regime and they connect him and it to the constitution of the United States. They talk of how our government and our constitution aren’t exactly a fully realized or exact definition of a mixed regime.  which is why, as I said before, they believe that our constitution and government lack the full definition of a separation of powers. “our Constitution has actually
operated in practice over the last 220 years as a democratized version of the Mixed Regime rather than as a functional separation of powers. The idea of
the Mixed Regime is a whole lot older than the idea of the separation of
powers, and it may well be more enduring. The writings of Aristotle,
Polybius, Cicero, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Machiavelli all illustrate this
point. The way a regime works, in practice, may show the the nature of the
regime. It may be the case that the U.S. Constitution inadvertently gave rise
to a democratized version of the Mixed Regime. If so, then that is an error
which our generation of Americans needs to correct.” 
They call the U.S. constitution and government a democratized version of a mixed regime and thereby believe that it is a dysfunctional separation of powers. In addition, they later call the U.S. government more of an oligarchy (which I don’t fully disagree with) and that “[Americans] need to revive the functional separation of powers.” Based on this viewpoint and the fact that it prompts whoever may read it(most likely students) and the citizens of the U.S.  to establish a true mixed regime and “revive the functional separation of powers,” I believe that this essay’s primary intended audience is the wide public who are possibly interested in the affairs of law, politics, government, and scholars or philosophers .

All in all, I found this essay to be extremely enlightening and extremely connected to Polybius and his ideals and values.

Appropriate MLA citation:

Calabresi, Steven G., et al. “The Rise and Fall of the Separation of Powers.” Northwestern University Law Review, vol. 106, no. 2, Apr. 2012, pp. 527-549. EBSCOhost,

Sean, Team Ares